Zim violates Abuja Declaration

HARARE - Government has again failed to allocate 15 percent of the national budget to the Health and Child Care ministry as stipulated under the Abuja Declaration, a local human rights organisation has complained.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 2001 Abuja Declaration which requires that member states allocate 15 percent of the total national budget to health.

Tinashe Mundawarara, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) HIV/Aids and human rights project manager, said judging from the 2014 budget allocation, President Robert Mugabe’s administration’s was noncommittal towards fulfilling citizens’ right to health, allocating only 8 percent of the national budget to Health and Child Care.

“The 8 percent allocated by the minister of Finance falls short of the Abuja Declaration and represents a step back when compared to the 2013 budget which stood at 10,7 percent,” Mundawarara told the Daily News.

“The budget has failed to reflect commitment by central government on the constitutional right to health.”

Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance minister, in his 2014 budget allocated $337 million to the Health and Child Care ministry, a drop compared to last year’s $381 million.

Since 2001, none of the country’s budgets have ever fulfilled the Abuja pledge.

Government has expressed regrets, attributing its failure to difficult economic times worsened by “illegal sanctions” imposed on the country by the “hostile” Western community.”

Mundawarara said the money allocated to health this year was a drop in the ocean as the sector was in a dire state.

“That amount is inadequate given that more PLHIV (People Living with HIV) will be requiring treatment and there is need to refurbish and upgrade our major hospitals,” he said.

The recently launched new WHO guidelines are expected to increase the number of people requiring ARVs from 860 000 to 1,2 million.

Zimbabwe is already struggling to avail anti-retroviral drugs to all HIV positive people under the old guidelines.

Itayi Rusike, Community Working Group on Health executive director, recently called on the Finance ministry to ensure speedy disbursement of the allocated money.

Delivery in the sector is currently compromised by numerous challenges including poor employee remuneration, lack of critical diagnostic equipment, drug shortages and staff shortages.

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Tambu - 5 January 2014

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